All children can be a little naughty, but if your child is too overactive, not able to maintain focus, and behaves in a way that affects learning and social relationships, he or she may need treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The three primary characteristics of ADHD are hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity.
- Hyperactivity – The child runs constantly and tirelessly, plays too roughly without fear of being injured, fidgets and squirms constantly, and often leaves his/her seat and can’t sit still. When the child reaches school-age, he/she is unable to focus and constantly wanders around the classroom. Some children may lie down on the floor. The child plays too roughly so other children don’t want to play with him/her.
- Inattention – When the child reaches school-age, he/she may have learning problems because he/she is easily distracted, appears not to listen when spoken to, has difficulty remembering things and following instructions, and doesn’t pay attention to details. The child makes careless mistakes, has trouble finishing assignments, and often loses things or forgets where they are.
- Impulsivity – The child has difficulty taking turns or letting others talk without interrupting them.
A child with ADHD may have only one or all three of these characteristics, but the symptoms will always appear before the age of 12 years and are caused by abnormalities in the frontal regions of the brain.
If you are worried that your child’s behavior could be a sign of ADHD, please consult a doctor because if it is left untreated, ADHD can affect family relationships, social relationships and learning ability. When children whose ADHD remains untreated grow up, they can feel isolated because they have no friends to play with. They are also likely to have a quick temper, become easily frustrated and be oversensitive to what people say.
However, before diagnosing a child with ADHD, it is important to understand that children naturally have different levels of attention, focus and concentration at different ages. In the first year of age, children can typically stay focused for only 2-3 minutes, but this increases to 3-5 minutes between 1-2 years of age, and 5-15 minutes in preschoolers. By the time a child enters elementary school, he/she will generally be able to stay focused for 15-30 minutes or more.
Once ADHD is diagnosed, the severity of the symptoms can be reduced with treatment. In severe cases of ADHD or associated diseases, medication may be used, but the most common form of treatment is behavioral therapy, which includes establishing proper boundaries, giving short instructions and asking the child to repeat the instructions, and modifying the learning environment to minimize distractions such as seating children at the front of the classroom or near the teacher’s desk. For the treatment to be effective, the doctor will communicate with the child’s parents and teachers.
While treatment can help ADHD children, the parents play the most important role in raising children and correcting their behaviors appropriately. Simple parenting tips are:
- Regulate your children’s use of technological devices. Do not let children aged under 2 years watch television or play with computers and video games. Children older than 2 years should play with digital devices for a maximum of 1-2 hours per day.
- Discipline your children to eat, sleep and play at appropriate times so as to train them to control themselves.
Finally, if your child has ADHD, try to understand the conditions and its positive effects. Children with ADHD like moving around and participating in physical activities, so encourage them to play outdoor sports. At school, the teachers can assign extra tasks, such as cleaning the boards or helping with carrying something.